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The SQLite Amalgamation

1. Executive Summary

Over 100 separate source files are concatenated into a single large file of C-code named "sqlite3.c" and referred to as "the amalgamation". The amalgamation contains everything an application needs to embed SQLite.

Combining all the code for SQLite into one big file makes SQLite easier to deploy — there is just one file to keep track of. And because all code is in a single translation unit, compilers can do better inter-procedure and inlining optimization resulting in machine code that is between 5% and 10% faster.

2. The SQLite Amalgamation

The SQLite library consists of 111 files of C code (as of Version 3.37.0 - 2021-11-27) in the core with 22 additional files that implement certain commonly used extensions. Of the 133 main source files, about 75% are C code and about 25% are C header files. Most of these are "source" files in the sense that they are stored in the SQLite version control system and are edited manually in an ordinary text editor. But some of the C-language files are generated using scripts or auxiliary programs. For example, the parse.y file contains an LALR(1) grammar of the SQL language which is compiled, by the Lemon parser generator, to produce a parser contained in the file "parse.c" accompanied by token identifiers in "parse.h".

The makefiles for SQLite have an "sqlite3.c" target for building the amalgamation, to contain all C code for the core SQLite library and the FTS3, FTS5, RTREE, DBSTAT, JSON1, RBU and SESSION extensions. This file contains about 238K lines of code (or 145K if you omit blank lines and comments) and is over 8.4 megabytes in size (as of 2021-12-29).

Though the various extensions are included in the "sqlite3.c" amalgamation file, they are disabled using #ifdef statements. Activate the extensions using compile-time options like:

The amalgamation contains everything you need to integrate SQLite into a larger project. Just copy the amalgamation into your source directory and compile it along with the other C code files in your project. (A more detailed discussion of the compilation process is available.) You may also want to make use of the "sqlite3.h" header file that defines the programming API for SQLite. The sqlite3.h header file is available separately. The sqlite3.h file is also contained within the amalgamation, in the first few thousand lines. So if you have a copy of sqlite3.c but cannot seem to locate sqlite3.h, you can always regenerate the sqlite3.h by copying and pasting from the amalgamation.

In addition to making SQLite easier to incorporate into other projects, the amalgamation also makes it run faster. Many compilers are able to do additional optimizations on code when it is contained with in a single translation unit such as it is in the amalgamation. We have measured performance improvements of between 5 and 10% when we use the amalgamation to compile SQLite rather than individual source files. The downside of this is that the additional optimizations often take the form of function inlining which tends to make the size of the resulting binary image larger.

3. The Split Amalgamation

Developers sometimes experience trouble debugging the quarter-million line amalgamation source file because some debuggers are only able to handle source code line numbers less than 32,768. The amalgamation source code runs fine. One just cannot single-step through it in a debugger.

To circumvent this limitation, the amalgamation is also available in a split form, consisting of files "sqlite3-1.c", "sqlite3-2.c", and so forth, where each file is less than 32,768 lines in length and where the concatenation of the files contain all of the code for the complete amalgamation. Then there is a separate source file named "sqlite3-all.c" which basically consists of code like this:

#include "sqlite3-1.c"
#include "sqlite3-2.c"
#include "sqlite3-3.c"
#include "sqlite3-4.c"
#include "sqlite3-5.c"
#include "sqlite3-6.c"
#include "sqlite3-7.c"

Applications using the split amalgamation simply compile against "sqlite3-all.c" instead of "sqlite3.c". The two files work exactly the same. But with "sqlite3-all.c", no single source file contains more than 32,767 lines of code, and so it is more convenient to use some debuggers. The downside of the split amalgamation is that it consists of 6 C source code files instead of just 1.

4. Download Copies Of The Amalgamation

The amalgamation and the sqlite3.h header file are available on the download page as a file named where the X is replaced by the appropriate version number.

5. Building The Amalgamation From Canonical Source Code

To build the amalgamation (either the full amalgamation or the split amalgamation), first get the canonical source code from one of the three servers. Then, on both unix-like systems and on Windows systems that have the free MinGW development environment installed, the amalgamation can be built using the following commands:

sh configure
make sqlite3.c

To build using Microsoft Visual C++, run this command:

nmake /f makefile.msc sqlite3.c

In both cases, the split amalgamation can be obtained by substituting "sqlite3-all.c" for "sqlite3.c" as the make target.

5.1. Dependencies

The build process makes extensive use of the Tcl scripting language. You will need to have a copy of TCL installed in order for the make targets above to work. Easy-to-use installers can be obtained from Many unix workstations have Tcl installed by default.

5.2. See Also

Additional notes on compiling SQLite can be found on the How To Compile SQLite page.

This page last modified on 2022-04-27 09:17:51 UTC